Believe it or not, jet lag is a type of depression. It occurs because when you fly across time zones, your circadian rhythm is thrown out of whack. Instead of going to bed at your regular time, you’ll need to reset your body clock before you can feel normal again. Except how? It’s daunting to think about long flights and challenging work schedules with limited sleep opportunities again and again for a month or more. But that doesn’t mean you have to accept this as a fact and let jet lag hinder your productivity and enjoyment. Fortunately, we have great tips on how to beat jet lag once and for all! Here are some useful ideas on how to reduce the effects of jet lag and increase your energy while traveling without sacrificing safety or efficiency.
Plan in Advance
It may seem obvious, but if you want to avoid jet lag completely, you need to plan your trip accordingly. Take into account how long you’ll be on the road, your destination’s time zone, and how many time zones you’ll cross. Once you know the basics, you can use tools like this calculator to predict how much time you need to adjust to your new schedule. The more time you give yourself to adjust, the less likely you are to feel the effects of jet lag. If you’re flying internationally, check with your doctor to make sure you’re healthy enough to travel. Understanding your body’s needs will help you avoid complications while on the road and make it easier to adjust to your new schedule. If you have health concerns, bring along special medications in your carry-on and be sure to tell airport personnel about any special needs or requirements.
Make a Light Meal Your First Dinner
The first meal you eat after a long journey is crucial to combatting jet lag. While you may be eager to dig into a big meal, studies have shown that light meals are more helpful in resetting your circadian rhythm. If you eat what you usually eat, your body will be confused for longer about when to expect your next meal. The ideal light meal is low in protein and carbohydrates, with foods like vegetables, fruit, and dairy products. Avoid fatty foods and high-protein foods that could make you sleepy, like peanut butter and avocados. If you’re staying at an airport hotel near an international terminal, you can take advantage of your proximity to grab healthy snacks to tide you over until your first meal. If not, most major airports have healthy food options.
Stay Well-hydrated and Take Walking Breaks
Sip water throughout the day and drink even more on long flights to avoid dehydration. Your brain needs a lot of water to function well, so stay hydrated throughout your trip to stay alert and energized. When you feel a foggy haze creeping in, take a break to walk around, stretch, and get your blood flowing — even if it’s just for 10 minutes. You can also try doing jumping jacks or another small physical activity to keep your body active without putting too much stress on your joints. If you’re staying in a hotel room, open the curtains and let in natural light. Even a little bit of light can help trick your body into thinking it’s daytime and help you stay awake and alert.
Use Natural Lighting
Natural lighting is always best, but when you’re trapped indoors during a trip, you can use bright lamps or lights to help trick your body into thinking it’s the right time of day. You can also use blackout curtains to block out extra light coming in through windows and ensure that you’re getting the right amount of light in the right places. If you have a room with a window, you can open the curtains during the day to let in natural light. If you’re staying at a hotel, ask about special light-blocking curtains you can request. Some hotels offer special blackout curtains with special light-blocking fabrics to help guests rest better even if light is coming in from outside.
Exercise and Stretch
Exercise is not only good for your health, but also for your circadian rhythm, according to studies. Studies have shown that exercise can reset your body clock relatively quickly and easily. If you have time, try going for a brisk walk after a meal and before bed. Exercising too close to bedtime can keep you awake, so try to wait at least a few hours after eating and one or two hours after a big meal. You can also try an evening yoga or stretching routine to help you relax and prepare for bed. You can also try exercising at different times each day to help your body adjust to a new routine.
Don’t Forget Good Earplugs and a Travel Blanket
While in-flight noise levels have decreased in recent years, you’re not immune to loud neighbors or the sounds of the plane. If you have a long trip ahead of you and you expect to hear the rumble of the engines or the sounds of fellow passengers, bring earplugs to help silence your surroundings. If you’re staying in a hotel room, you can also request a sound machine or white noise machine to drown out any unwanted sounds. If you’re on a long flight with limited space, you can use a travel blanket to stay warm and comfortable while resting in your seat. You might find that you’re able to sleep better if you’re comfortable and warm, so a travel blanket is a great investment.
Try Showering at Different Times to Reset Your Body Clock
Every time you shower, you’re naturally resetting your circadian rhythm, so try showering at different times of the day to help your body get back in sync faster. You can start your day with an early morning shower if you want to get up early, or take an afternoon shower if you want to stay up late. If you’re traveling and don’t want to disturb your roommates, you can also take a bath. If you’re near a beach, you can also walk into the water as the tide comes in. The sound and movement of the water will help you adjust to your new schedule. Just be sure that you have the right supplies and advice for safe beach walking. If you’re traveling with children, you can also try reading them a story to help them fall asleep.
Jet lag is a real, challenging issue that makes traveling difficult. Luckily, there are many ways to combat the effects of jet lag and make your trip more enjoyable and productive. After reading this guide, you should have all the information you need to reduce the effects of jet lag and make your trip more enjoyable and efficient. With a little preparation and these tips, you can make the most of your jet lag.